In this message we learn that we are empowered to answer Jesus’ prayer.
Alright. Good morning, everybody. Welcome to Valley Creek Church. Hey, if you’re new or you don’t feel like you’re connected or you want to know more about what’s happening in our church, let me encourage you. Go to the Pathway. We’ll help you meet some people, answer some questions for you, and it’s a great starting point of becoming a part of Valley Creek Church. We are — I’m going to just jump right in today. We are in a series called Alignment, and we’re talking about the power and protection of unity. And we started it last week and we said that in our world of independence we’ve kind of lost the value of interdependence. And yet when we read the Bible we discover that the Bible is full of references to this supernatural power and protection that comes when we’re unified together. That one can put a thousand to flight, but two of us can put 10,000 to flight. The two of us are greater than one of us when united, but two of us are less than one of us when divided. You’ll find it all over the Bible. And we started last week by saying that reconciliation is spiritual warfare. That Satan has one play. He is a divider. All he wants to do is divide your marriage, your family, your friends, your groups, your neighborhoods, the people in your life, Jesus’ church. He wants to divide. And so if we know that’s his tactic, then we respond with reconciliation and we defeat him right where he starts. And we said that whoever we agree with we align with, and whoever you’re aligned with you empower to rule and reign in your life. And we don’t want to empower the kingdom of darkness. We want to empower the kingdom of God. Okay? So if you’ve got your Bibles, turn with me to John 17 and Second Corinthians 5. John 17 and Second Corinthians 5 and here’s what I want to say. Let me just kind of set it up again today like last week. I want to do some teaching on the front half, if you will walk with me through some teaching. Then we will get to the application at the end. But I just want you to set your frame of reference to kind of just — let’s walk through some things together and then we’ll make it very applicable.
And again, let me just say, this is challenging and I know it’s challenging. But man, God has some freedom for you if you will receive Him. Okay? So as you’re turning to John 17 let me ask you this question. What if you had the authority or the power to answer the prayers of the people in your life? That would be pretty cool, wouldn’t it? I mean, if you are empowered to answer the prayers of the people in your life, like what would you sacrifice? What would you give? What would you do to see their prayers come to pass? Like, that breakthrough that that person is desperate for, or that provision or that healing they need, or just answering the desires of their heart. If you are empowered to answer the prayers of the people in your life, I bet you would go to great lengths to see those prayers come to pass. And then maybe if you reversed it and if you said, well, what if the people in your life had the power to answer your prayers? What would you want them to do to see your prayers come to pass? [Laughs] Even more than you would do to see their prayers come to pass. Right?
Okay. Well in John 17, Jesus is at the end of his life. This is kind of his last prayer. Pick it up in Verse 20. He says, “My prayer is not for them alone” — talking about the disciples. “I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message for all of us. That all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one. I in them and you in me, may they be brought to complete unity. So let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” Jesus is at the end of his life. He is about to go to the cross. He prays his final prayer. He could pray for anything. He could pray for world peace. He could pray to end world hunger. He could pray that the church would have amazing programs through the next few millennia. He could pray for anything that he wants. And he chooses to pray for unity. He says, “Father, I pray that they may be one as we are one.” He prays that we may be unified.
And you know who gets to answer that prayer? We do. We are empowered to answer not the prayers of the people in our lives. We are empowered to answer Jesus’ prayer. We sit here all the time and we want him to answer our prayers, but here is a prayer he prayed that we get to answer for him. And so the question I would ask you is this. What are you willing to do to sacrifice, to give, to see his prayer come to pass? Are you answering his prayer in your marriage and in your family and in his church? Are you giving his prayer the same attention you want him to give your prayers? I mean, the reason Jesus prays for unity at the end of his life is because — we said it last week, alignment is not natural and unity is not normal. Left to ourselves we will always divide and we will always fracture and go in different directions. It’s not natural. It’s not normal. It takes intention out. So Ephesians 4:3 says, “Make every effort to defend the unity of the Spirit.” It takes effort and intentionality to pursue unity with one another. And even though it’s not natural or normal, you were created for it. What Jesus is really saying in this passage is that he is saying that the Jesus in you is calling out to the Jesus is me, and he is always drawing us together because he wants his body to be united. The Jesus in you in calling out to the Jesus in the people in this room, drawing you together. That’s why as a Christian or a follower of Jesus you will never be content if you’re not part of the fellowship of a local body of believers, because the Jesus in you is always calling out to the Jesus in them and drawing you together. He wants his body united. First Corinthians 12 — here’s what he says, “There should be no divisions in the body, but then it’s parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it. If one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.” Now you are the body of Christ and each one of you is a part of it. So you are the body of Christ. Every one of us sitting in this room, we’re all important. We’re all needed.
There’s a role for us to play. We’re interdependent. This is the world that’s tried to trick us to say you’re independent. No, we’re interdependent. You don’t even belong to yourself anymore if you’re a follower of Jesus. You belong to Jesus and you belong to us. If one part suffers, we all suffer. If one of us succeeds, we all succeed. Jesus wants his body united. I mean, think for a moment the last time you were sick. There’s a lot of sickness going around right now in schools and in people’s lives, lot of flu and RSV and stuff. Think of the last time you were sick. It is miserable when you’re sick, isn’t it? I mean, you’re weak, you’re joyless. You can’t do much. You kind of mope and complain. Who is a bad, sick person? Anybody? My wife hates when I get sick. I am a bad, sick person. It’s terrible. And you know what sickness is? Sickness is when there’s division in your body. That’s all it is. Sickness is when the parts of your body are divided. They’re not in agreement. They’re not in alignment. There’s not unity in your body. It’s not all working together. The parts aren’t submitting to each other. Or there’s things between them that are keeping them from working the way that they’re supposed to. Sickness is when the parts of your body aren’t in unity with one another. And that’s why when we pray for people to be healed of sickness and we lay hands on them, one of the prayers I always pray when I’m praying for somebody is I say, “Lord, bring their body back into alignment.” There’s something in their body that’s out of alignment and that’s why it’s not working. And when you’re sick you become weak and ineffective. Okay, well listen. If we’re the body of Christ, then when we’re not united with one another, when we’re not in agreement or alignment, we make his body sick and weak and ineffective. Which is probably why he prays, “Father, I pray that they would be aligned, so we can be effective.” I mean, think of the last time you pursued unity with somebody. Maybe it was your spouse. You had a little tiff and you worked it out.
Maybe it was somebody in your family. There was an issue and you guys got it resolved. Or with your boss and you had to figure something out. Or with a friend, you brought somebody out of the darkness into the light, and you talked about it. And you had that conversation and you got back into unity. That creates a good feeling within you. Doesn’t it? Anytime you pursue unity, you reconcile, you come into agreement with somebody, there’s this refreshing nature that happens in our spirit. Why? Because we said it last week, every time you reconcile you just brought a little bit of heaven to earth. In heaven there’s no division, offenses, or unforgiveness. There’s unity and reconciliation. So every time you pursue unity you brought a little bit of heaven to earth and you experience heavenly realities in earthly circumstances. That’s why it’s refreshing. But not only do you experience heaven, you actually experience the living Christ. Matthew 18:20 — Jesus says, “Where two or three are gathered in my name, there I am also.” When two or three of us get together and agree and align and pursue unity in his name, there he is also. When we pursue unity with one another, Jesus says he himself shows up. And what you have to remember is that unity is not when the two of us agree with each other. Adam and Eve did around the fruit, and that didn’t work out all that well. Unity is when the two of us agree with God. That’s unity. And Jesus says, “When two or three are gathered in my name, when you’re in agreement with each other and with me, there I am also.” You experience the living Christ. That’s why it’s so refreshing. And what you have to remember is that the reason Satan hates unity is because unity reminds him of God. Satan knows exact — Satan knows more what God looks like than you and I do, because you understand, Satan started with God in heaven. He was an angel in heaven. He knows exactly what God looks like, and he hates unity because it reminds him of God because God exists in unity. He is the trinity, right? God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit. We’re not usually sure what to do that we think God the Father, He is the angry one. God the Son, He is the nice one. And God the Spirit, he is the weird one, right? The creepy bird guy that comes down. [Laughs]
We’re not sure what to do. God the Father, He is a picture of love. God the Son is a picture of grace, and God the Spirit is a picture of power. There are three in one. Different personalities, different roles, and yet in complete commitment and submission to each other. And we would all agree that they’re better together. Unity in the midst of diversity. I mean, can you imagine one day if the Holy Spirit just decided that he was out?Like, I’m just done with this, you know. It’s always about Jesus. I’m tired of it always being about Jesus. I want someone to talk about me for a while. There are entire denominations that don’t even believe I exist. I’m out of here. Or what if he gets offended? You know, like I’m tired of everybody saying, it’s about Jesus, Jesus. Just why do I have to be the weird one? I don’t want to be the weird one anymore [Laughs]. Or what if he had a preference that he was offended by? Like, hey, Father, Son, you come to this earth for a while. I’ve been here a long time and I’m ready for some change. Okay?
I mean, what if he did that and bailed? No. They exist in unity with one another. They’re better together. Okay, you understand? You were made in that image and likeness. Genesis 1:26 — God says, “Let us make man in our image.” He doesn’t say, “my image.” He says, “our image.” Unity in the midst of diversity, which means when we unify together as the body of Christ we reflect and reveal God in this world. It’s in unity where we reflect the full nature of the Godhead, which is why Jesus prays, “Father, I pray they need to be one, so that the world may believe you sent me.” When we’re in unity we reflect and reveal God to the world. Which is why Satan hates your unity. He can’t divide God, so he will divide anything that reminds him of God. Like, your marriage, your family, your friendships, your groups, and Jesus’ church. You have to understand that our unity reflects God in a way that you as an individual never will be able to. It’s only when we’re in together in commitment and submission with one another that we reflect God in a way, in a fullness that you and I as individuals will never be able to, because He is a God that exists in unity. Which means unity is a part of the mission of God. “Father, I pray they may be one, so that the world may believe.” When we pursue unity the world believes in Jesus. And so I told you last week, you can’t say you’re serious about bringing heaven to earth if you don’t pursue unity. You also can’t say you’re serious about the mission of God if you don’t pursue unity. Because what Jesus is saying is that unity is one of the greatest missional tools we will ever have. [Laughs] I mean, do you get it? If you don’t like unity, you’re going to hate heaven.
Because the Bible tells us, in the end every nation, tribe and tongue will be gathered together to declare Jesus as Lord. Every nation, tribe and tongue, different people from different walks of life that represent different facets of the uniqueness of God, all brought together reflecting and radiating the goodness of God to all of creation, heaven at that point declaring Jesus is Lord. That’s heaven. And so think of how sad it is that the church constantly divides over silly issues. And I don’t even have to give you examples because you have probably plenty of your own throughout your own life or things you’ve watched on the news. None of the least of these would be theology. Right? I mean, that’s why there’s so many different denominations. It’s because most groups get together and they divide over all these little theological issues and say, “We can’t fellowship because you don’t believe this and we believe that.” Okay, let me try to just bring you a little bit of clarity. This has helped me and maybe this will help you.
In the center of it all you have absolutes. These are the absolutes that we believe without question. This is like, Jesus is Lord. The Bible is the inherent inspired word of God. God exists in the Trinity. Jesus is the only way to heaven. These are the absolutes we know in scripture. There are the things we will die for. Okay? This is absolute truth. Well, beyond that you get a little out here and you have things called interpretations. I think I spelled that wrong, but that’s okay. You can get the picture there. Interpretations, this would be like you read a passage and I read the same passage and we interpret what the original author meant a little bit differently. We’re not totally sure on what it is. We interpret it differently. This would be denominations that read something about communion and interpret it this way and another one will interpret it that way. Or spiritual gifts, they interpret it this way and somebody else interprets it that way. It’s not absolute. It’s an interpretation. We’re not sure. We read it in different ways. Well, after that you have something called deductions. This would be like taking A plus B equals C. It would be taking two interpretations. I interpret this passage and this passage, add them together and create a conclusion or a deduction. This would be like N times theology. You take two prophetic passages out of the Bible. You interpret both of them. You add them together and you create a conclusion. At this point we’re not really sure. We don’t teach deductions really even on the weekend, because it’s so out there you’re not sure what it is. And then beyond that you get out here into things like experiences. What you’ve experienced in life and what you think is true. And then you have opinions. Here’s my opinion or expectation of what should happen or what should be. And then you have things like preferences. Right? This is what I prefer. Like, the music is too loud or the music is too quiet. Or the sermon is too long or the sermon is too short. I don’t think anybody ever prefers the sermon to be longer than it ever is. Right? There’s no preferences for it to be short. And then you have perspectives.
This is your unique perspective based on your life and where you are. And the further you get from the absolutes, the less you can trust and hold on to those things. And where we get in trouble is when we take these things and we bring them into the absolute category and we break fellowship over them. When we take things that are experiences, opinions, preferences, perspectives, deductions or interpretations and we decide we can’t be friends, we can’t fellowship, we’re going to break relationship over it. That’s what churches do around theology, and it’s silly. Does that make sense to you? Okay. Now take this and apply it to your relationships, because how many times do you take experiences, opinions, preferences, or perspectives and you make them absolute truths, and you break fellowship with the people in your life? You break relationship. You divide. You are offended. You hold on to unforgiveness. When in the center the only thing that matters is, Jesus is Lord.
And if Jesus is Lord, all the rest of this stuff doesn’t matter. But if I make these things the big deals in my life, then what I’m saying is, I am Lord. And so if you will say Jesus is Lord and you will pull it out from here, all my experiences and opinions and preferences, they will all be in submission to Jesus. But if I take one of these and pull it out, then all of a sudden what I’m trying to say is that Jesus needs to be in submission to me. Does that make sense to you? When Jesus is Lord, it’s amazing how all of these things no longer really matter. They kind of take care of themselves. And at the end of the day you’re either a unifier or a divider. You say, “No, I’m just neutral.” There’s no such thing as neutral in the kingdom of God. Matthew 12:30 — Jesus says, “He who is not with me is against me. He who does not gather, scatters.” Catch that verse. “If you’re not with me in alignment and unified with me”, Jesus says “you’re actually against me. You’re trying to divide me. And if you’re not gathering, bringing other people into alignment with me to answer my prayer, then you’re actually scattering. You’re pushing them away.” And so when every moment of every day in every relationship, in every conversation you’re either pulling people to answer Jesus’ prayer or you’re driving them away. Unity is not a passive posture. It’s an active pursuit. Okay? Are you with me so far in all that?
Now you are handling this so much better than Saturday night that I’m so proud of you so far. Okay? Because here’s what I want to say to you, and I’m going to make it real practical for you. The reason this is a tough message and I knew it was going to be tough all week, is because we’re talking about Jesus’ prayer. And if we’re honest with each other, on a typical Sunday morning when we show up in this place we’re not really here to answer Jesus’ prayer. We’re here because we need our prayer answered. We don’t really want to talk about Jesus and how we need to submit to him into the people in our lives. What we want to talk about is us and where we’re at and the relevancy of our life and what’s going on. So man, have a funny, relevant, applicable message for me that makes me feel better when I leave [Laughs]. Right? Oh, you can’t admit that’s honest because I know it’s true. That’s okay.
Sometimes I want that for myself too. I realize that’s what makes it hard, but this is what makes it life. And this is the gospel. We want to answer his prayer and he is worthy of it. Okay? So three ways that you can pursue unity and answer Jesus’ prayer. First thing is this. Receive, so you can give. Receive, so you can give. If you’re going to pursue unity with the people in your life, you’re going to have to give a lot. You’re going to have to give a lot of forgiveness and honor and mercy and kindness, but you can’t give what you don’t have. Matthew 10:8 — “Freely you have received. Freely give.” The more free I receive from Jesus, the more free I’m able to give to the people in my life. But if I’m not good at receiving from Jesus, I’m unable to give to the people in my life. At the end of the day most of us, we don’t have a giving problem. We have a receiving problem. If you don’t want to give finances or forgiveness or kindness or love or mercy, it’s not that you have a giving problem. It’s you have a receiving problem. You’re unable to give because you’re unable to fully receive what Jesus wants to give you. And you can’t give what you don’t have. So every place you’re not in unity with others, that’s an invitation from Jesus to receive from him. I mean, look at this. Second Corinthians Chapter 5, this is an incredible passage. Verse 16 says, “So from now on, we regard no one from a worldly point of view. The ones we regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old is gone. The new has come. All this from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation. That God was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And He has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors as though God were making His appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God.” In other words he says, “Everything starts with the understanding that you have been reconciled with Jesus.” He who has been given forgiven much, loves much. When you understand you’ve been reconciled with Him, you can’t help but reconcile in the world around you. But you cannot give what you have yet to receive. And so if you’re counting the sins of the people in your life against them, it’s because you believe God is counting your sins against you. If you’re making the people in your life earn your forgiveness like your spouse, it’s because you believe that you have to earn God’s forgiveness. I mean, we’ve been given the ministry of reconciliation. You are anointed, the Bible says. Supernaturally anointed as a minister of reconciliation. But you will only reconcile with others to the level you believe you’ve been reconciled with God.
You cannot give what you have yet to receive. And so the question I would ask you is this. How are we going to reconcile the world if we can’t reconcile with each other? If that’s out calling, to reconcile the world to God, how are we going to reconcile the world if we can’t reconcile with the people in this room, with the people in our home, with the people in our family, or with the people in our neighborhood? And you know why we can’t reconcile with them? Because we don’t believe we’re fully reconciled with God. I mean, think of Joseph. Joseph is taken by his brothers. He is thrown into a pit, sold into slavery. They take him to Egypt. He ends up in an Egyptian prison for years. And because the favor of God is on his life, God raises him up to become the leader of Egypt. Years and years go by. He hasn’t seen his family. A famine breaks out. His brothers come to Egypt to buy grain. Joseph sees them. And you know how most of us would respond after years of all that? [Laughs] We’ll be like, “Oh, I have a prison cell that I have been saving for you for about 20 years.”
But Joseph looks at them and he weeps and he hugs them and he says, “What you intended for harm, God has used for good. Now stay here and I’ll take care of you.” What? How do you do that? You’ve received the goodness of God, so he had the goodness of God to give. How about David? David spends 10 years running from Saul. All David wanted to do is serve Saul, be a good soldier for Saul, honor Saul. David is like the ultimate follower you would want to have in your army, but Saul is jealous of him and wants to kill him. Ten years David has to run. And when Saul is killed by someone else it says, “David weeps over Saul’s death.” How do you weep for a man who wanted to kill you? Because he had received the goodness of God. He had the goodness of God to give. Or how about Jesus hanging on the cross with a bunch of people whipping him, mocking him, spitting on him, scorning him, and he says, “Father, forgive them. They know not what they do.”
How do you do that? He received the goodness of God, so he had the goodness of God to give. We have got to stop focusing on what other people have done towards us and start focusing on what Jesus has done for us. Jesus’ physical body was torn on the cross, so his spiritual body could be put back together. It’s a prophetic picture. You say, “Why did his body have to be torn?” His body was torn physically, so his spiritual body could be put back together, which means there is no chasm, no gap, nor a fence too wide that the goodness of God cannot restore or reconcile, because he was already torn so you can be put back together with anyone else. Every time you want to stop and say, “Yeah, but they”, you have to remind yourself, “Yeah, but he.” Yeah, but they hurt me. Yeah, but he healed you. Yeah, but they offended me. I know, but he forgave you. Yeah, but they put me down. I know, but he lifted you up. Matthew 5:9 — “Blessed are the peacemakers. They will be called the sons of God.” When you understand you’ve been reconciled and you’re now in the family as a son or daughter, you can’t help but make peace in the world around you. Okay? You’ve got to receive, so you can give. You’re with me so far? I am so proud of you today, 9:30 service.
Second point is this [Laughs]. You have to have a submissive heart. I realized I just used the S word in church. That is our least favorite word. We don’t want to submit to each other. I want people to submit to us. I have experiences and opinions and preferences and perspectives and expectations that I need you to submit to me. Right? But can I just tell you? A life of personal preference is overrated. Look at celebrities. Their entire life is their personal preference. They are a mess. You do not want to be like those people. Ephesians 5:21 — “Let us submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” You don’t submit to the people in your life for them. You submit to them for Jesus. And you say submit. What does that mean? We’ll break the word down, sub-mission. Sub-mission, it means to come under someone else’s mission, lift them up, and help them succeed and flourish. I mean, again think of the Trinity, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. The Father sits there and makes it all about the Son. “This is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased.” And then Jesus sits there and he says it’s all about the Father. ‘I’m here to represent the Father, only do what the Father says and go where the Father says. And I can’t wait to go to the cross because I’m going to give you the Holy Spirit. He is amazing. He will be even better than if I was here.” And then you have the Holy Spirit that says, “It’s not about me. It’s all about Jesus. I want to tell you about Jesus, testify about Jesus, tell you what Jesus has to say. And I ultimately want to draw you to the Father through Jesus.” They live in the submission with one another.
And we’re supposed to represent that. This is what Jesus says. He says, “I’m not here for myself. If you’ve seen me, you’ve seen the Father. Like, I don’t have my own mission. I’m here to represent, re-present the Father to the world.” Same is true with us. Verse 20 — “We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors. As though God were making his appeal through us, we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God.” That’s your mission, to be an ambassador, a representative, re-present the reconciliation of God to this world. How can you represent something you yourself aren’t living? Whose mission are you on? If the world looks at you, can they see the unity of the Godhead? I mean, the word division, break it down again. Di-vision, two visions. So when we’re divided we have multiple visions, which means anytime you’re not pursuing unity you have a different vision than Jesus. You’re not in submission to him. You’re trying to make him be in submission to you.
Do you remember Paul and Barnabas? Paul and Barnabas were the guys who like changed the world, New Testament church. Barnabas was really Paul’s mentor, gave him the chance in the first place. Paul writes most of the New Testament. These two guys, they’re on a mission. It’s amazing. And there’s this passage that says they get into such a sharp dispute that they literally go separate ways over it. You say, “What was the dispute about?” Well, it was over this guy named Mark, who on a previous missionary journey abandoned them, failed them, didn’t do a good job. And so they’re about to go on a mission again and Paul refuses to take Mark because, “He failed us once. I ain’t going to let that happen again.” And then Barnabas is sitting there and saying, “Yeah bro, it’s called the second chance. You got one. He can get one too.” Okay? And so they’re arguing about whether or not Mark can go. Here’s my question. Which one of them is right? Which one of them is right? Neither of them. They’re allowing a preference or a perspective to divide their fellowship. They’re talking about missioning to the world? And the mission of God is sitting there right in front of them in this relationship. Reconcile. Reconcile here before you worry about reconciling out there. You say, “Well, why is it easy if you just break relationship?” I mean, think how many churches divide and keep going. Well, we divide from each other to go start a new church to bring reconciliation to the world.
Does anyone else see a problem in that? And you know why we do it? Because it’s easier to minister to someone who hasn’t offended us than to forgive someone who has. So the question is, is Jesus Lord or am I lord? Because division is never Jesus as Lord. And the reason we struggle submitting to each other is because we really don’t like submitting to Jesus. So the question then is, who do you need to submit to? Okay? And then the last thing is this. You have to have courageous conversations. Have courageous conversations. We talked about it last week. There’s two conversations you need to have if you’re going to answer Jesus’ prayer. The first one is, you need to reconcile, go first. Big people say, “I’m sorry. I was wrong. Will you forgive me?” We talked about that last week. The other courageous conversation you need to have is, you need to shut divisive speech down. I am amazed by how many Christians will tolerate divisive conversations. And you say, “Well, I’m not saying anything. I’m just listening.” I know, but do you understand? Satan has a smile from ear to ear if you’re entertaining divisive conversations, because he is scattering so many seeds in your heart through your ear as you listen to that garbage, that you’re going to pick up an offense towards that person, that group, that organization, that family, that church, that business, whatever may be just because you’re listening. And Satan is getting all these divisive seeds in you that are going to spring and produce a harvest you do not want in the days to come. Every time you listen to gossip or slander, critical speech, division, negative perspective, you are leading people away from Jesus’ prayer instead of towards it. And you say, “Yeah, yeah, but I’m not the one talking. I’m just listening.” Listen. The listening ear is as guilty as the speaking tongue. What you tolerate, you promote. Titus 3 — listen to this verse — “Warn a divisive person once and then warn him a second time. After that, have nothing to do with him.” [Laughs] When was the last time you obeyed that verse? I mean, Jesus tells us how to live our lives in an abundant way. We don’t really listen to him. Life falls apart. Then we wonder why. Warn a divisive person once. “Hey bro, if you keep talking like that, I’m not going to be able to hang out with you.” Warn him a second time. “Hey bro, I keep telling you. You keep talking like this, we can’t hang out if you’re doing this.” After that, have nothing to do with him. Break the relationship. “Man, I can’t be friends with you anymore, which means I probably have to delete you from Facebook.”
Because you understand, these are as guilty as this. It’s amazing how our conscious is not impacted when it comes with our fingers instead of our mouth. Oh, it’s disgusting. I mean, if you will just go on a feed of an average Christian, listen to them complain about everything. How are you any different than the world? How are you representing the unity of the Godhead in that moment? How are you drawing people towards Jesus? Well, it’s Facebook. It doesn’t count. Yes, it does [Laughs]. Yes, it does. And you don’t want to entertain divisive people. That’s what this verse is telling you. Why? Because divisive people will divide you from the things and the people in your life. It’s a natural course of reality that will happen. Look at women who hang around other women, who just choose to divorce their husbands. Over time they pick up that same route. Look at men who just choose to talk negative about their wives. And over time if they tolerate it, they will start having those exact same conversations. Why? Because you become like whoever you hang out with. He is saying, “Don’t hang out with divisive people.” Literally, be courageous enough to shut it down. [Laughs] I’m passionate about this today. And you’re like, why? I don’t know, because we want to be healthy and follow Jesus. That’s why.
[Laughs] Proverbs 6 says this. Listen to this. How strong is this too? “There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to Him.” That’s strong. “Haughty eyes, lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that deceives wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies, and a man who stirs up dissension among brothers.” God says He hates divisive speech as much as He hates murder. So are your conversations building up or tearing down? I mean in John 8, a woman caught in adultery is thrown at Jesus’ feet naked. They pick up stones to stone her. You know, they’re trying to trick Jesus. But you can imagine the gossips swirl that would have been going on. Man, if there was Facebook back then, people would be like, “Get here now”, you know, exclamation point. [Laughs] It would be trending, you know. Naked woman about to be stoned. Come quick. You know, that’s what was happening. And all this gossip train is going on and you know what Jesus does? He steps right into the middle of it and he says, “He who is without sin throw the first stone.” They all drop their stones and leave. Jesus steps into it and he shuts it down. When was the last time you shut down a divisive or negative conversation? And if you don’t like something, why do you need to tell everyone that?
Like, for real, you know. Like, can you imagine for Jesus if for 33 years he went around and told everyone how about the inn in Bethlehem was? Man, guys, don’t go to Bethlehem. And if you do, don’t stay there. It is bad, you know. You’ve got to sleep in a trough if you go there. [Laughs] Or can you imagine Jesus walking around to the crowd saying, “I know you love John the Baptist. I did too. He was my cousin. He was my bro. He prepared the way for me. And really I didn’t want him to die and be beheaded, but you know, I can only do what I see the Father doing and what the Father tells me to do. I wanted to save him, but the Father, you know how he is.” [Laughs] No. Or you can you imagine Jesus sitting with James and John being like, “Dude, that Peter guy, he is big talk. Wait, shush, here he comes. Hey, hey Peter. Come sit man. We’re so glad you’re part of our team. You make everything better.”
Come on. And if you say, “Well no, people come to me and tell me these things.” Okay, listen. If everyone comes to you to tell you those things, you are the problem because divisive people look for people who tolerate division. If I have a leader or someone that constantly is coming, everyone saying this to me, everyone is complaining, I know they’re the problem because they don’t have the courage to shut the conversation down. Like, I’ll be amazed how many times I’m in Guest Central and someone come up and be like, “Yay, we came from the church down the road. It’s a terrible church. And they did this and they did that.” And I’ll flip it on them so fast it’ll be like, “Man, we love that church. We partner with them to reach the city. They’re amazing, doing great things.” And they’re like, “Yeah, yeah.”
Yeah, you’re not going to come here and talk to me bad about another church. It just ain’t going to happen. Well, how about Matthew 18? When someone sits there and says something, “Hey, you know what they did? Can you believe this person and how they spoke to me and what they did?” Hey man, I’m so sorry you got hurt. This sounds like a great opportunity for Matthew 18, for you to go and work it out with them. I’ll be praying for you. Let me know how it goes. What else you want to talk about? The conversation ends, just like that. Try it once. You’d be amazed. No one puts people back in their place. So when it happens, they don’t know what to do. And the reason we’re afraid of it is because we want to be liked. Someone said to me last night after the service, they said, “Do you realize people don’t want to do that, because if they do that, they realize they’d probably not have any friends.” We wouldn’t have anything to talk about. Because if we’re not talking negative about someone else, what are we actually talking about? I mean, you realize in Numbers Chapter 13 — let me bring this all to a close. In Numbers Chapter 13, they’re about to go in and take the Promised Land. Twelve spies go and spy it out, and they come back. And in Verse 32 it says, “And they spread among the Israelites a bad report about the land they had explored.” Ten spies come back — twelve spies come back. Two of them are for it. Ten of them are against it. They spread a bad report among the Israelites, so much so that the people get divided. They want to get rid of Moses in there and they want to go back to Egypt. They don’t want to follow God anymore. The entire nation gives up their destiny. My question is, where were the courageous people to shut that garbage down? Where was the guy that just stood up and said, “Bro, you’re not talking to me, my family, my clan or my tribe about that garbage. God gave us that land. We’re taking it. You go take your divisive speech somewhere else.”
But they tolerated it. So division destroyed their destiny. People who spread bad reports steal the destiny of those who are willing to listen. If you refuse to listen, negative talk won’t steal your destiny. Are you with me? Okay. Let me close with this. In the Old Testament if you wanted to see revival, you restored the temple. The temple was the dwelling place of God, the building where they would meet with God. And as they would leave God and worship other Gods and bales and natural poles [phonetic] and all these different kinds of things, if they wanted revival to come, they would restore the temple. Restore the ruined things, offer sacrifices. The fire of God would fall. Revival would break out in the land. Okay. We’re New Testament people and if we want to see revival, come, it’s the same pattern. We have to restore the temple. And the temple today is not a building, the dwelling place of God. It’s a people. You are the temple of God as an individual, but we are also the temple of God as a people. And so if we want to see revival come, we must restore the temple, the body of Christ, restore ruined relationships which require sacrifice. The fire of God will fall and revival will break out through the land. Maybe that’s why Jesus’ last prayers, “Father, may they be one, so that the world will know you sent me.” When we’ve restored those relationships, revival comes and the world believes in Jesus. If you want revival in your heart, in your life, in your family, in your marriage, in your neighborhood, in your church, restore the ruined relationships of the temple, and His fire will fall.
Jesus’ body was already torn once. We must refuse to tolerate it being torn again. So will you close your eyes with me? I so want to encourage you this morning, church. I am so proud of you for receiving that message. And now the question is, what does the Holy Spirit want to say to you as an individual? What does he want to whisper in your heart or in your mind? What does he want to set you free from? Where does he want to bring your hope? Man, if you’re struggling giving to someone in some capacity, Jesus is inviting you to receive. Maybe there’s a conversation you know you need to shut down or a relationship you need to get away from because it’s negative. It’s tearing you down. May you have the courage and the strength to do that. Jesus answers our prayers, and this is the one way we get to honor him back by answering his prayer. And the paradox is when we answer his prayer it actually makes us stronger, healthier and freer. And so may you have the courage and the strength to pursue unity and maybe your marriage, friendships, your family, your parents, people in an old church, people in this church. Let’s restore the temple and let the fire of God fall. So Jesus, we love you. We want to honor you. We want your body to be strong and healthy, vibrant and active. May you give us the courage and the strength to be kingdom people, in agreement and in alignment and in unity with you. Jesus in me is calling out to the Jesus in you. Jesus, draw us together, that we may be one in the days to come.
I pray for every person in this room that feels like that broken relationship is hopeless. Would you give them hope today? You were torn, so they could be put back together. We love you Jesus. In your name we pray. Amen.